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The Ruins Of Beverast

The Ruins Of Beverast is one the most respected black metal bands of this era. Of course this isn’t surprising since their albums are always of very high quality. Eerie, bleak and unconventional, the fourth album ‘Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer’ has become another dark gem. The album may be available for some time now, but even a late interview with Alexander von Meilenwald is well worth your time.

By: Roel de Haan | Archive under black metal

To start things properly, how are you doing?
Absolutely perfect, thanks. The world and me are a couple of irresistible passion and romance.

Congratulations on your fourth album ‘Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer’. Once again an excellent and intriguing record. How are the general reactions towards it? What are your expectations for the album?
Thank you. The reactions I noticed so far were complaisant, yet a bit more hesitant than on ‘Foulest Semen’. ‘Blood Vaults’ is uglier and less musical than its predecessor, a bit more like ‘Rain Upon The Impure’ in its whole sphere perhaps, but I still don't think that this is really important. As I frequently said already, I do not really have an expectation for an album as soon as it is finished. TROB is still in no way success-oriented, I still don't know any sales figures of all the albums and there are always reasons to prefer one album or another, we're speaking of music here, so in my humble opinion, it is completely ridiculous and beyond sense to tell people that the newest album is always the best. Bullshit-blabbering of the music industry. I had a certain vision for ‘Blood Vaults’, as I always have when creating music. When I listened to the album for the first time after the finishing of the mix and after a proper time interval, I told myself that my vision was completed and fulfilled. That means I am completely content with the work. From this point of time henceforth, nothing that is judged about the album by a third party can or should be influenced by myself.

After the biblical inspired, more specific the story of Noah and the ark, ‘Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite’, ‘Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer’ deals with the Malleus Maleficarum or in English: Hammer Of The Witches. What about the author or the book did you find compelling or fascinating that you choose it as the subject for this album?
The Ruins Of Beverast occupy with remarkably malicious, bizarre, fatal and surreal material ever since. And I guess there is few literature in past and present which is more malicious, bizarre, fatal and surreal than the Malleus. This very fact seems already sufficient for an embedding into a TROB-effort. Yet, the ultimate fascinating aspect about the book is the fact that it is superficially benevolent and good-natured, an outgrowth of fundamentally Christian ideas, a work which was meant to save the world from its terminal downfall. There is a suspenseful Paradox in the whole development of Kramer's argumentation, which allowed me to take over the part of the leading character as a protagonist, and evolve the album's concept and lyrics from the author's view, without losing the characteristic attributes of TROB-styled lyrics. This was possible because Kramer's ideas are – in a modern point of view! – evil, radical and highly dangerous. Thus, I perverted Kramer into a Demon and embedded the illustration of an insane Catholic mind by letting him unmask himself. His thoughts remained extensively original in my lyrics, I only pushed the vocabulary into a more suitable TROBesque direction for the ‘Blood Vaults’-series. This was a fascinating challenge.

Compared to its predecessor the tracks on the new album take longer to reach their climaxes and the tension arches are even longer. How did the song-writing differ from your earlier works?
Well, ‘Blood Vaults’ is a concept album, which the other albums were not, so the actual challenge was to set up a course of tension for one huge song and not for several separate songs. This is of course noticeable on the album, although the segments are somewhat different from each other. Therefore not all of them are that monstrous. But anyway, it is a bit inappropriate to speak of “tracks” in this case. It is better to refer to it as one song, divided into segments. Apart from that, the composing of riffs and rhythm patters did not really differ from my usual way of working.

Doom metal has always been a quite noticeable influence within your music, on ‘Blood Vaults’ this seems to be even more the case. Combining doom with black metal is something you are clearly good at. How do you approach these different styles when you write music?
Through the concept and lyrics. Through the particles that constitute the plot of a song's matter. All TROB-songs get a setting, a scenery they dwell in BEFORE the music is created. This determines how they are evolved, riff-wise, rhythm-wise, tempo-wise, concerning the vocals, the length of the song, the overall atmosphere. As one might notice, I am not a big fan of groove. I adore atmospheric and surreal music with a cold and bizarre distance to reality. That is why I extensively deny rhythm patterns which are too modern and “danceable”. Thus, the music often has an appeal of a mixture between fast and very slow parts. This is my way of writing and the way I am feeling most comfortable. The way which is the most intensive for exposing extreme content and extreme moods.

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Being the sole member of The Ruins Of Beverast enables you to be in total creative control, but are there also negative effects or difficulties you have to deal with because of this?
Certainly there are. During the creative process, there are situations when I reach my limit regarding my guitar and vocal skills. I sometimes thought about involving friends into the recordings, but until now, I haven't done that (apart from the female voice on “Ordeal” of course). Still, I am not sure if I might do it on future recordings, because when listening to some parts, I think it could revalue the material. But that is not the real problem. Being the sole member of band automatically means the absence of division of work. I am self-responsible for all public matters, and I hate public matters as hell. When I was in Naglfar, we had members who gladly took over the public work and speech, so I was able to concentrate on musical matters. That has become impossible today. I try to reduce the public presence of TROB to the possible minimum, but it is not the minimum which would be acceptable for me anymore. Thus, I extensively engage the precious help from Ván Records. But not to get me wrong, those annoyances could NEVER defeat the advantages and freedom I enjoy without artistic compromises.

How would you characterise the development of The Ruins Of Beverast, both musically as conceptually, over the course of your career?
I guess the heaviest break TROB ever saw took place between the demo and the first album. TROB started out as an experimental move how to reanimate the real spirit of 2nd wave Black Metal again, in contrast to the innumerable poorly inspirited pseudo-Darkthronish standard bands that ruled the Underground during the early 00's. Some personal difficulties forced me to lead my energy towards more serious and intimate material again in late 2003, and out of this period ‘Unlock The Shrine’ emerged. I must say that I myself was a bit struck by the power which music gave to me when doing it alone. Since then, only few things have changed in the bias and operation methods of TROB. Any album is kind of a mirror of my personal circumstances and preferences at the specific time it arose, but imagine TROB as a kind of trail which I consequently promised to follow out of personal motivations.

The artwork for the album done by Axell Hermann is quite intriguing. Could you tell us something about it and how it is connected to the music?
Well, first: as ‘Blood Vaults’ is conceptually morbid, sick and downtuned, I wanted an old-fashioned Death Metal cover. Most of the recent Metal covers have been consisting of highly modern collages and Photoshop-experiments, and as usual, I am rapidly bored by trends in Metal. I wanted a classical painting. And as I explained above, ‘Blood Vaults’ focuses on a sacred dignitary who mutates into a demon, and thus I decided I did not only want a painting, but a painting with a monstrosity as a protagonist. This might be an unusual idea for a project which deals with abstract and surreal matters, but as ‘Blood Vaults’ is an album full of Paradoxes, I though it would be perfect. So, the picture is showing Kramer in his incarnation as a Demon.

Much to my surprise The Ruins Of Beverast has become a live band in recent times. How did that came to be? Can we expect a tour in support of the new album?
Well, to my own surprise and not really explainable to me, I always enjoyed live gigs with my bands. I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with the fact that - through performing them live - the songs somehow are "(re-)lived" and "(re-)experienced" in a way they are not when being composed and recorded. In a creative procedure where you compose songs and finish them by recording them, they are carved in stone in a rather one-dimensional way. By performing them live, they are revitalised and kept alive, felt and interpreted differently each night they are reawaken. I like this way of treatment to what I created as it feels immortal. A tour with TROB might happen later on, I'm not sure yet. For now, we concentrate on several single gigs due to the desire of exclusivity and the lack of temporal possibilities. Most of the band members have their own main bands apart from the TROB-Live-Lineup, so we cannot develop live plans as we please.

After four albums and gaining a significant following and respect, what are the ambitions still left to fulfil?[ What are your hopes and dreams for The Ruins Of Beverast?
As I already said very often, I have no “external” ambitions. It is impossible for me to create a form of art just for the sake of receiving benevolent response from the public. The Ruins Of Beverast stand for ugliness, unease, inapproachability and morbidity. This is the only possible way I can paint the world in my eyes and achieve a feeling of fulfilment with my work. If this is respected and appreciated, it means something to me and causes a positive feeling. If not, so be it. I won't change anything. I would die without creating and performing music, this is the only ambition I ever had and can ever have.

I want to thank you very much for your time and I wish you well for the future. I hereby offer you the traditional final words to our readers.
Thanks a lot, that's truly old-school. I am not that keen on big words, so take care and have yourself in mind. Cheerz!

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